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Where do you draw the line between discipline and cruelty?

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A girl at work has just on the spur of the moment bought an Irish Blue Staffi (on bank holiday monday...), and I seem to be the only person at work who takes issue with the way she's been disciplining it.

 

He's a 5month old 'pup', and he widdled on her carpet the first night he was there (she told us all) and when he did she screamed at him, "smacked him" and put him outside. He then started crying, so she "kept going out and giving him a slap" so he eventually stopped... this is apparently what she does whenever he does anything bad. She also slapped him for putting his head through the cat flap and crying to be let in.

 

She works 9 to 5 so he's locked in the garden with only a shed for shelter. Now, I know some people do this and it's not what I'd do personally, but then it's personal choice - isn't it?

 

She's been justifying the fact that she smacks him as "he needs to learn", and I find that hard to justify, because given his breed, in my opinion it's that sort of treatment that can give them behavioural problems later in life. No one else has said anything to me, but I've hinted that I don't think it's right. And I'm a firm believer that puppies respond better to positive training than being 'slapped'. If you're going to buy a puppy, and you've never owned a dog, aren't puppy classes the best option?

 

Maybe I'm just too soft - especially if no one else has even raised an eyebrow at what she's saying she does to him. I'm finding it hard to decide whether she's being cruel or just very very very strict (other people's standards, not mine). I am considering calling the RSPCA if it continues, which is why I'm so stuck, as I want to be absolutely sure she's being out of order before I do anything.

 

My other half is going to call them on my behalf, if we do decide to, just so I'm not in the firing line at work. Although I guess when I said 'isn't smacking him a bit harsh' that may have shown my hand.

 

 

Urgh I don't know, this whole situation is a bit ridiculous, getting a dog on a whim is ridiculous. A woman sold him to her for £200 cash so she could buy a new tattoo and didn't even bother saying bye to him, he's not having much luck :(

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I have studied canine psychology a bit in recent years and I'd hate to know of something like this going on, it certainly is not the way to train a dog. Unfortunately there are staffies filling up all the rehoming centres these days as people take them on as "status dogs" then get bored.

 

Not sure how much the RSPCA would do in this case, it would be better if the owner could be persuaded to do some proper training classes etc as she will probably end up with a bored aggressive dog before long.

 

Such a difficult situation, on balance, I'd probably make the call though.

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I have studied canine psychology a bit in recent years and I'd hate to know of something like this going on, it certainly is not the way to train a dog. Unfortunately there are staffies filling up all the rehoming centres these days as people take them on as "status dogs" then get bored.

 

Not sure how much the RSPCA would do in this case, it would be better if the owner could be persuaded to do some proper training classes etc as she will probably end up with a bored aggressive dog before long.

 

Such a difficult situation, on balance, I'd probably make the call though.

 

 

I am edging towards calling, my mum reckons at the very least the RSPCA might recommend she go to puppy training classes... I just feel like I need to know for sure whether I'm overreacting or not, I would never dream of treating a puppy that way.

 

Yes, it is a status dog, she wanted a staffi, a pitbull or a husky (which would have been ridiculous, given she works 9 to 5 and is the only person over the age of 7 in that household).

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My only experience of raising a puppy was when we trained a guide dog puppy for a year. She was only 8 wks when they brought her to us so accidents & puppy behaviour was inevitable. At no point was smacking an option, we were trained how to discipline the puppy in a firm and thoughtful way. The emphasis was on reward for good behaviour. We definitely needed training in how to handle a puppy.

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My only experience of raising a puppy was when we trained a guide dog puppy for a year. She was only 8 wks when they brought her to us so accidents & puppy behaviour was inevitable. At no point was smacking an option, we were trained how to discipline the puppy in a firm and thoughtful way. The emphasis was on reward for good behaviour. We definitely needed training in how to handle a puppy.

 

We had 2 puppies during my childhood, and I agree, the slapping approach is the polar opposite to what I think needs to be done. The fact that she talks loudly and openly about it and smiles when she says 'and he stopped!' just makes my skin crawl. Her friend who recently adopted a pup is 'teaching her' how to train him, using the 'shove his face in mustard' method, and 'slap him til he stops'. It really upsets me as he's a beaut.

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I would never EVER hit a dog for many reasons. Firstly, it's just not necessary, there are far kinder and more effective ways of training a dog, You are also at risk of hurting the dog or causing nervous aggression in the dog (putting yourself and others at risk). Also, unless the smack happens at the exact instant that the unwanted behaviour happens then the dog will not associate the cause and effect anyway so it won't make any difference to the behaviour.

 

I have been known to give dogs a 'tap' now and again (and by that I do mean a tap, as if you were tapping someone on the shoulder) but only to get the attention of a dog who e.g. has got it's nose stuck in my teacup/licking crumbs off my plate and has suddenly gone deaf! And as far as I am concerned that's my fault anyway for leaving cups and plates within reach.

 

Dogs, on the whole, want to please their owners and staffies are known to be particularly affectionate towards people, so it's far better to show the dog what behaviours are pleasing, so it will repeat those, rather than trying to 'train' out unwanted behaviours using unkind methods.

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I completely agree. I guess what I'm trying to figure out in my head before/if I make the call is: Is slapping cruelty or just poor ownership/discipline? Is it serious enough for me to get an official body involved in its welfare or is it just something that I don't agree with her on and wouldn't choose to do myself.

 

It's such a hard decision to make.

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I would never EVER hit a dog for many reasons. Firstly, it's just not necessary, there are far kinder and more effective ways of training a dog, You are also at risk of hurting the dog or causing nervous aggression in the dog (putting yourself and others at risk). Also, unless the smack happens at the exact instant that the unwanted behaviour happens then the dog will not associate the cause and effect anyway so it won't make any difference.
Totally agree. We attended dog training as a family so that we could all be involved in training and socialising our dog. Rewards are far more effective than shouting and hitting after all, the dog only hears 'blah blah blah' at a scary volume. I would be particularly concerned about it being in a shed for hours on end and the sort of behaviour that this might lead to from the puppy and then, in response, your colleague. Not easy for you to listen to but if you really fear for this dog and believe that she is ill treating him then you need to contact someone.

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I have had a few dogs in my time from tiny chihuahuas to a german shepherd. In my opinion this is more like cruelty than discipline. The sad thing is is sounds like your friend believes she is doing the right thing :cry:

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I have had a few dogs in my time from tiny chihuahuas to a german shepherd. In my opinion this is more like cruelty than discipline. The sad thing is is sounds like your friend believes she is doing the right thing :cry:

 

 

Oh believe me, this girl isn't my friend, I tolerate her because I work with her, she's not very nice in many respects, but I'll keep that out of this thread because the main concern here is her treatment of this poor pup.

 

Yes, she does believe she's doing the right thing, to the point that when questioned she goes 'Nah, he needs to learn to be on his own all day, he needs to learn not to pee in my house he won't learn unless I'm tough with him'. If you suggest other ways of dealing with it, i.e. not smacking him, she shakes her head and says she knows what she's doing.

 

:x

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Poor thing.

 

I am a teacher and have learned a lot about the psychology of learning, children or animals don't learn well when scared, confused or in pain. It doesn't take a genius when you think about it.

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Poor thing.

 

I am a teacher and have learned a lot about the psychology of learning, children or animals don't learn well when scared, confused or in pain. It doesn't take a genius when you think about it.

 

 

Her son has severe behavioural problems and learning difficulties, she says he's 'mental' and 'a psycho' and she talks about treating him in much the same way, so I guess she views her parenting and animal husbandry as requiring the same approach. :anxious:

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Hmm I wonder how she treats the under 7's in the house if that is her idea of discipline :?

 

 

Think I just answered your question inadvertently :lol:

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Poor thing.

 

I am a teacher and have learned a lot about the psychology of learning, children or animals don't learn well when scared, confused or in pain. It doesn't take a genius when you think about it.

 

 

Her son has severe behavioural problems and learning difficulties, she says he's 'mental' and 'a psycho' and she talks about treating him in much the same way, so I guess she views her parenting and animal husbandry as requiring the same approach. :anxious:

The whole situation sounds dreadful :(

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Poor thing.

 

I am a teacher and have learned a lot about the psychology of learning, children or animals don't learn well when scared, confused or in pain. It doesn't take a genius when you think about it.

 

 

Her son has severe behavioural problems and learning difficulties, she says he's 'mental' and 'a psycho' and she talks about treating him in much the same way, so I guess she views her parenting and animal husbandry as requiring the same approach. :anxious:

The whole situation sounds dreadful :(

 

 

She's not very mature at all, she was a teenage mum and I think unfortunately her parenting reflects that, plenty of teen mums manage absolutely fine, but I think it's entirely whether they grow up and learn to get their feelings and points across with words and appropriate actions, rather than shouting and hitting. She has broken probably 6 staplers in the office, because if they don't work or run out of staples, instead of seeing what the problem is, she thumps them with her fist and gets annoyed.

 

 

Needless to say I don't lend her any of my stationery anymore.

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My husband worked as a lawyer for Children for 10 years or so and he once commented to me that whenever children were taken into care or needed an intervention of some kind there was always a neglected/mistreated dog in the household too. I am not saying that this colleague of yours is in that league but he was convinced that there was a link between animal cruelty and child cruelty. I would not hesitate to report this case to the RSPCA, even if they are unable to intervene you will know that you have done all that you can for that poor dog.

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My husband worked as a lawyer for Children for 10 years or so and he once commented to me that whenever children were taken into care or needed an intervention of some kind there was always a neglected/mistreated dog in the household too. I am not saying that this colleague of yours is in that league but he was convinced that there was a link between animal cruelty and child cruelty. I would not hesitate to report this case to the RSPCA, even if they are unable to intervene you will know that you have done all that you can for that poor dog.

 

The RSPCA recognise this link and if they find an animal being treated cruelly in a household with children, they will make sure their welfare is also investigated.

 

I would definitely ring the RSPCA. Just don't resist the urge to comment at work and hopefully she won't point the finger at you. If they judge it to be a case of cruelty, then you've done the right thing and the poor dog will be in safe hands, and if they don't, at least she will get some proper advice from professionals on puppy training. Fingers crossed she'll listen! :pray:

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She sounds like she shouldn't be charge of the well being of anything with a developed nervous system. :cry:

 

Perhaps you could tell the rspca what she's told you, and say that if she is telling you that she may well be doing more behind closed doors. What an awful situation.

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I know I risk giving an opinion against the tide of thought here, but please bare in mind that you are asking for an opinion on a (generally speaking) pro animal welfare website forum.

 

I do not condone her behaviour in anyway and in an ideal world people wouldn't behave like that and would realise that postive reward based treatment works far better for animals (and children). However we have to accept that there are people less enlightened and who do things in a different way, the chances of changing them or getting them to attend the mentioned training classes are remote. The best example I can give is that I do not agree with smacking and the way many people bring up their children but I wouldn't report them.

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Her son has severe behavioural problems and learning difficulties, she says he's 'mental' and 'a psycho' and she talks about treating him in much the same way, so I guess she views her parenting and animal husbandry as requiring the same approach. :anxious:

 

To reinforce what I mean you have not asked about reporting the behaviour towards her son. All of it is unacceptable to us... but should it be reported?

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Her son has severe behavioural problems and learning difficulties, she says he's 'mental' and 'a psycho' and she talks about treating him in much the same way, so I guess she views her parenting and animal husbandry as requiring the same approach. :anxious:

 

To reinforce what I mean you have not asked about reporting the behaviour towards her son. All of it is unacceptable to us... but should it be reported?

 

That's exactly the sort of thing that is reported to us and is passed on to child protection. What they do with it is up to them but this is verbal abuse and just as damaging as physical abuse. I agree it may be a grey area but yes if it were passed to me I would pass on to child protection.

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What concerns me here (aside from the fact that I would never smack an animal) is the breed. I have just re-read this thread and I notice you mention the breed is Irish Staff. I am sure that someone will correct me if I am wrong but I believe Irish Staff is often a term used for a Pit Bull or Pit Bull X. Definitely not a dog you would want to have around small children or be treating in a way that might cause aggressive behaviour (not that you would wish any dog to become aggressive). Perhaps give the RSPCA a call and sound them out?

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Her son has severe behavioural problems and learning difficulties, she says he's 'mental' and 'a psycho' and she talks about treating him in much the same way, so I guess she views her parenting and animal husbandry as requiring the same approach. :anxious:

 

To reinforce what I mean you have not asked about reporting the behaviour towards her son. All of it is unacceptable to us... but should it be reported?

 

This is an animal forum, so naturally I'm enquiring about animal welfare, as I don't know the word of the law on it. I'm asking if the behaviour she is exhibiting towards her dog is something the RSPCA would take issue with and act upon, and whether I'm overreacting to her treatment of the dog, as I don't know legally what constitutes cruelty. I don't need others' opinions to decide whether her treatment of her child is acceptable, as I know it isn't.

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Perhaps you could tell the rspca what she's told you, and say that if she is telling you that she may well be doing more behind closed doors. What an awful situation.

 

 

This is exactly what my OH said, and why he said he'd call the RSPCA on my behalf to stop anything going on at work.

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